Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CAL....

I have recently gotten acquainted with many moms of young children with special needs....many who have children with autism.  When I read their emails, Facebook posts, Instagram updates....it takes me back to a time when my boy was little.  There were so many milestones and things I cherish....like the first unprompted kiss he gave me, the first time he asked to swim when he was six, the first time he went to school in underwear vs. a pull up; but there were so many challenges....so so many.  There were days when I cried more than I smiled, days when I felt like a complete failure, days when I had a hard time looking forward and wallowed in the sadness, confusion and utter lack of control.  It was a hard hard time.  He did not have the ability to "use his words" or self sooth or many of the things that young children learn to do naturally and with guidance.  He just couldn't do it.  This resulted in many tantrums including physical outbursts but mostly just screaming and flailing. I would literally become a ball of stress if we entered the grocery store and there were no goldfish to purchase at the snack area, because bringing them from home wasn't the same as buying them as soon as we walked in to the store; so no groceries that day.  Because his appearance is that of a typical child, we always had the looks and comments...."You need to learn how to handle that boy."  "He needs a good spanking."  "What is wrong with him?'  "Don't you know how to control your child?"  "He is a brat."  For me, it was oftentimes devastating, always exhausting and I usually ended up sobbing.  There were days when he would wake up and within the first hour, something had happened to upset him; and the rest of the day was shot.  His sisters, especially Addi and Drew, because they were so close in age to him were huge blessings in his life and in mine.  Oftentimes when they were little,  they were my lifesaver for that day or that minute....when I could see things about to go awry....they could get him through it.  They could relate to him so much better than I often could.  I was so busy trying to follow his picture schedule or routine and walking on pins and needles, that I would get myself worked up about it and end up making things worse. As he has grown, there are still challenges....but they are very different and so am I.  I have become much more laid back.  Throwing away his picture schedule was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Don't misunderstand....it was essential for a while, but when he and I became so dependent on it that it ruled our lives; it was time to go.  Cal is now able to understand words better, he is able to understand emotions...his own and other people's much better; and that has made a huge difference.  Some of this came naturally as he has gotten older but most of it came through the help of his therapists and teachers.  The main challenge I see now is how he is treated by others.  Those who know him and take the time to get to know him treat him wonderfully.  It's oftentimes those who don't know him, who just aren't sure how to respond.  When you talk to him now, it is very apparent within the first few minutes that he has special needs.  Some people see this and embrace and engage him wholeheartedly, and some people are very visibly uncomfortable.  It doesn't make me angry or upset anymore (except when people will leave the park when we are there, because they don't want their children swinging next to a big 16 year old boy, holding a black cloth napkin and asking them random questions that they would never have any idea how to answer); but that doesn't happen very often.  It is what it is....people are accepting or they are not.  I've had to learn that through the years, and I've had to learn to tame my mama bear instincts as well.  We are all humans, and I can guarantee you I have not treated every single person I've ever met the way they should be treated.  I can honestly say that if I had not been blessed by this boy, I don't know how I would have reacted to a 16 year old boy asking me "Do you know the muffin man?"  or  "Is Harold a helicopter or a bus?" while invading your personal space.  Having Cal has taught me many many things: he has taught me not to take anything for granted, to do my best to live in the moment; but mainly that people need to be treated with love.  We are all different, but to Jesus; we are all loved the same. Cal may ask me the same question hundreds of times in one afternoon, but there are many things that he doesn't do that are pretty awesome: Cal doesn't lie...he doesn't know how to, he doesn't cave to peer pressure, he is not glued to an iPhone, he doesn't forget to do his chores, he is never involved in drama, he doesn't argue, he doesn't conform as Romans 12:2 reminds us.  He is who he is....what you see is what you get; and sometimes that makes him the easiest of them all.

1 comment:

Kim Holt said...

Children are a blessing, each in their own way. Cal is a sweetheart! People are missing out when they scurry away from children/adults with differences. We're ALL different!!!